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How To Get Free Garmin GPS Maps For Hiking

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free maps for garmin gps

In This Guide
  • Why These Free Maps Are Better
  • Installing the Maps On Your Computer
  • Instaling the Maps On Your GPS Device

The excellent news is that should you personal a Garmin GPS system, there’s a technique to get free Garmin GPS maps. And most often, the free maps are significantly better than the costly Garmin maps. I’m a giant fan of Garmin GPS gadgets, however I all the time discovered it disappointing that they charged additional for maps. Garmin doesn’t publicize it, however most of their GPS items are setup to take any maps within the right format. Here’s find out how to get and set up these free hiking maps in a straightforward, step-by-step course of.

In retrospect, I feel the value for Garmin maps is simply too excessive. There are some nearly as good, or higher, options accessible without charge on-line. This product is overpriced for what it’s. I might suggest different software program. – Garmin Map Review on Amazon

Why These Free Maps?

So let me start by saying there are a whole lot of methods to get free Garmin GPS maps, and a whole lot of totally different strategies to put in them. You might create complete web sites dedicated to the topic, and folks have (see under). This article focuses on putting in my favourite free Garmin GPS maps for hiking within the USA, utilizing OpenRoadMaps. If these don’t be just right for you, attempt exploring the opposite map providers that I’ve listed under.

OpenStreetMaps are the Wikipedia of maps. The public contributes to, confirms, and edits the info on the map. This curation goes for hiking trails too. The maps are commonly up to date, and over the previous few years have appeared essentially the most correct in my expertise. You may even turn out to be a contributor should you like.

free maps for garmin gps
Here’s a facet by facet comparability of the Garmin Basecamp with these free topo maps.

The free hiking maps that I’m recommending are nice as a result of:

  • They are good topographic maps with elevation contours.
  • They have a lot of hiking trails on them.
  • They are “routable,” which signifies that you should use free instruments like Garmin Basecamp to robotically create routes and tracks that you would be able to comply with (with out having to plot every level of the path your self).
  • The colours and element work effectively for me. That is, they give the impression of being good on the system.
  • USA areas are packaged collectively.
free maps for garmin gps
This screenshot provides you an concept of the extent of the element in these free maps. You may also search the maps for factors of curiosity. Here I looked for the Great Smoky Mtn NP.

Video Instructions

If you could have a more moderen GPS system like a Garmin Fenix 5x Plus or are on Windows, there are some particular directions under.

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Which Garmin GPS gadgets do the maps work with?

First off, the Garmin unit you could have may need maps already. You most likely know this, however should you’re looking for a GPS, go to the Garmin web site web page for the unit. If it maps include the unit, it would say it has “preloaded topo maps.”

If you have already got a unit and need to discover out if these free maps work, go to the unit’s web page on the Garmin web site, after which take a look at the “specs” part. There is a line for “ability to add maps,” when you’ve got a test there, you’re good to go.

Downloading the Free Garmin GPS Maps

The very first thing you’re going to need to do is go to the GMapTool website, specifically the USA OSM Topo Routable page.

free maps for garmin gps
The good factor about this website is that they’ve bundled the maps up into giant areas.

Then decide the area you need, and obtain the suitable map bundle (link method on the backside of the web page). The information are fairly massive. The obtain would possibly take some time.

Installing the Free Maps on Your Computer

The directions are totally different for Mac and PC. The map web site has a link for installation instructions, click on that. My directions cowl the set up on a Mac, however I’ve some normal that fill within the gaps for putting in on Windows under .

For the Mac, you’ll want three (free) packages to put in the maps. You can obtain and set up these packages whilst you wait on your maps to obtain.

free maps for garmin gps
First is a 7z extractor. The map downloads are in 7z format, which is a flowery compressed ZIP file. Download and set up this program. There are additionally different free and paid 7z choices within the Mac App Store.
free maps for garmin gps
Then obtain the free Garmin MapInstall and MapSupervisor packages. They make putting in the maps straightforward and non-technical.
free maps for garmin gps
Once you obtain the map file, open it along with your 7z software. It will unzip the information and put them right into a folder.
free maps for garmin gps
After unzipping, you’ll have just a few information within the folder. Double-click on the big file with the “gmap” extension on the tip.
free maps for garmin gps
That ought to launch Garmin MapSupervisor, which can ask you if you wish to set up the maps. Hit “yes” and it’ll copy the maps into your Garmin listing. When you’re completed, delete the map obtain and the unzipped folder.

That’s it. The maps are in your pc. If you’re not already utilizing the free Garmin Basecamp instrument, I extremely suggest getting it. It will help you browse maps, create tracks, and is invaluable in planning hikes.

free maps for garmin gps
Pairing Garmin Basecamp with these free maps for Garmin GPS provides you.a strong planning instrument. Here I’m looking element round Icehouse Saddle in California.

Installing the Free Maps on Your Garmin GPS

Once your map is downloaded and put in, you’re all set to put in them in your GPS unit.

free maps for garmin gps
Connect your Garmin GPS unit to your pc and ensure it’s on. Give it a minute or two to load and register with the pc.
free maps for garmin gps
Load the Garmin MapInstall software. It ought to present your GPS unit within the high field. Hit proceed.
free maps for garmin gps
MapInstall will present you what maps you could have put in already (if any), what’s in your pc, and the way a lot room you could have in your system (on the backside). Click on the maps you need to set up whereas watching the area in your system. My eTrex 20x has 3.7gb of inner reminiscence, no want so as to add a MicroSD card. Click “send maps.”
free maps for garmin gps
Now you wait. It can take some time for the maps to load onto your system. Don’t do that should you’re in a rush.
free maps for garmin gps
Now verify that the maps are loaded. Go into your settings for maps and poke round. The course of is totally different for various items, however you must have the ability to see one thing like this.
free maps for garmin gps
Boom! Maps! Enjoy the maps in your Garmin GPS. And if there may be an excessive amount of element or the map rendering appears sluggish, go to settings and check out reducing the element stage.

Installing on Newer Garmin Devices From Mac

So Garmin modified the way in which that the GPS gadgets talk with computer systems. If you could have Windows, you need to be all good (see under). If you could have Mac, there’s a wrinkle.

Garmin switched to the MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) to switch information, which makes the Garmin seem as a “media device.” And in fact, Apple doesn’t help it. But I’ve discovered an answer. It’s not essentially the most swish one on the earth, but it surely works (confirmed on a Fenix 5x Plus).

  • Get your maps from right here: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl
  • The website will ship you an e-mail with a obtain link.
  • Download the ZIP file that’s described as “Compressed file that contains a single image that can be placed directly onto the SD-card of the GPS.”
  • Unzip the file. You ought to have a file with a “.img” extension.
  • Now we have to join the Garmin to the pc. Download the free Android File Transfer program from Google. Install it in your machine as per the directions.
  • If you could have Garmin Express running, be certain it’s not running and you’ve got disabled any “automatically launch when device is connected” settings.
  • Plug in your Garmin to the pc and launch the Android File Transfer program. You ought to see a display screen like this:
    Fenix 5x Plus File Transfer
  • Simply drag the “.img” file that you just downloaded into the Garmin folder. You would possibly need to rename the “.img” file to verify it doesn’t whack any maps already on there.

That’s it. Go to your map settings and switch the OSM map on and off.

Osm Maps On Fenix 5x Plus
OSM maps on my Fenix 5x Plus

If you’re employed at Garmin, please replace MapInstall to help MTP! They’re too big-time to hearken to my suggestions, so if anybody at Garmin, please bug them.

Tips for Windows Installation

The instructions on GMapTool website aren’t very descriptive for Windows. Here are some tips from fellow hiker Dave T. on find out how to set up the free maps on Windows.

  • Run the “bat” file as described on the GMapTool website.
  • Open Garmin Basecamp to make sure that the maps have been put in.
  • Use the free Garmin MapInstall program to ship the maps to your system.
  • Or use the maps at garmin.openstreetmap.nl, Download your map first. This will create a single “img” file for every map you obtain.  Then copy that map file to your Garmin (the drive when you’ve got a micro SD card, not the system) within the “Garmin” folder (which you should create first if it doesn’t exist already).

If These Free Garmin GPS Maps Don’t Work For You

There are different free maps on your Garmin GPS, and once more, they may have totally different directions for set up. Check the web site the place the maps are supplied for instructions on find out how to set up them.

If you’re having bother discovering the GMAP folder, this tip has helped some folks (because of Liz S!).

Some Final Thoughts

I like to recommend planning your hike and making a GPX file beforehand. Most Garmin GPS items are too small for something greater than impromptu navigation planning. I have a tutorial on how to plan a hiking route for your Garmin GPS here.

And I might use your assist. I don’t obtain these maps every single day, so if these instructions don’t appear updated, please contact me and let me know. I’ll replace the instructions right here accordingly.

Lastly, a observe should you’re having tech points. Unfortunately, I can’t assist everybody who emails me. I like to recommend posting your query on-line within the Garmin Reddit, the Garmin Forums, or in a Garmin group on Facebook. That’s most likely you’re quickest path to success.

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